Jo Koy in Manila review: Fun familiar setups turn into delightful karaoke night

Vincent Garcia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2020 07:06 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2020 11:21 PM

Jo Koy manages to make his Mall of Asia performance unique in a sense that it feels new despite being familiar. Photo from the Facebook page of Mall of Asia Arena

MANILA -- Singers can sing their hit songs over and over again during their world tours, while comedians, like himself, have to come up with something new each time, Jo Koy laments right around the start of his sold-out Mall of Asia Arena show this Wednesday night.

Now true as that may sound, it's also clear that he had no trouble material-wise here in his home country as he found plenty to make fun of just by simply looking around.

The horrible traffic ("motorcycles here don't give a f**k about cars!"), how all the women in the audience seem to be cautiously wearing their purses' straps around their necks ("no one is going to steal those!"), and the Christmas decorations that are still up around the metro ("how many more months are we going to celebrate Christmas?") all provided him with winning jokes --opportunities he took to veer away from his shout-filled, hyperactive reenactments of life with his mother in the US.

Though make no mistake, Jo Koy did still pepper his nearly 2-hour long set with plenty of his hilarious anecdotes. The stand-outs this time are the one when he begged a police officer to bring him to prison instead of his home after getting caught illegally riding a motorbike, fearing the wrath of his already fuming mother, and when he recalled his mom getting a low videoke score of 77 singing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

"Josep, why did it give me a 77?"

"Because you said, 'Par.'"

"P*k you, Josep. Did you understand that?"

But Jo Koy proves in this performance that he can also be counted on for an entertaining change of direction, as with the part where he drops the jokes and sings along with everyone hits from his favorite '90s acts such as Boyz II Men, TLC, and Brian McKnight.

The bit presents that his son only listens to songs about "p*ssies" nowadays, and he wanted Filipinos, which he says is known around the world for knowing the lyrics to every song to ever exist, to help him introduce to "Little Joe" some "real music."

It was great fun, especially when he asked the 9,000 people in attendance to use their smartphones as light sticks of sorts, and it made this Manila leg feel well thought-out and special.

Add in an actual appearance from his son, Jo Koy yielding the stage to three local stand-up acts to do sets prior to his own, and more tales about how proud he is to be Filipino, the night then becomes an endearing show that's unique in how it manages to feel new -- showing off his flair for observational comedy -- yet at the same time familiar --a 'singer' whose hits you just can't tire of.

The Manila leg of Jo Koy's "Just Kidding" world tour was made possible by MMI Live.